Martial arts expert finds metaphors for life and the workplace

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(Photo: Susan Chandler)Susan Chandler is a fifth degree black belt in the Japanese martial art Aikido. She’s also a consultant to workplaces around Colorado. And those aren’t separate endeavors for her; she translates what she learns in the dojo to hospital workers, aerospace engineers, librarians, and other workers she consults with.

Add a master’s degree in integrative social neuroscience (how the body influences social behavior) and her studies of music, and on Sept. 13, Chandler has a lot to draw on when she participates in “Convergence” at TEDxMileHigh.

Being healthy and happy in the workplace -- and beyond -- comes down to some simple practices, Chandler says, like straightening one’s posture and finding the physical center of balance at the belly button.

“It’s about having a good foundation,” she tells workers during consultations. “It’s about learning to get centered.”

Language such as “being thrown for a loop” or “being in a slump” are signs of stress, she says.

“But I can change my response to what’s out there,” she adds.

Chandler also teaches Ki-Aikido, a defensive martial art, in which practitioners develop physical and mental balance and lessons for handling life’s challenges. But she speaks of the art as if it is a form of dance.

“There is the idea that in order to lead, you have to follow,” she says, adding that’s a powerful metaphor for other relationships, too.